Best friend ...even if only for a few weeks

By Corene Brisendine

Emily Pendergrass came to Kansas State University to study animal science, but discovered other ways to help her four-legged friends.

Pendergrass began doing community service work with the Riley County Humane Society three years ago. Currently, she is adoption coordinator for the pet adoption program through the society.

“For the humanE society, we are strictly a foster-based program,” she said. “All the animals are in houses with fosters.” That includes dogs, cats, rabbits and mice. “We have it all,” she said.

She said the society is a foster-based program because it doesn’t have a building to house the animals.  Along with foster parents, she said the humane society also participates with various businesses, like Petco, in the display of pets for adoption in stores.

Pendergrass was not able to be a foster-parent to pets until this last year because she did not live in an apartment of her own. Since she moved, she has fostered about five dogs. She said she likes it because it gives her own dog a playmate, and it gives foster pets a human companion as well as an animal one.

The current dog she is fostering, Delilah, will be with her longer than a typical foster dog because it has some health issues that need to be resolved. A pet is usually adopted out within a month. She said Delilah will be in foster care for about two months.

Delilah, a Great Pyrenees mix, was originally an outdoor dog, but Pendergrass is training her to live indoors.

“Typically we want them to be indoor dogs when we adopt them because we know they are going to get so much more love that way,” Pendergrass said.

Along with housebreaking, Delilah is also receiving basic obedience training. Pendergrass said when spots are available at a local obedience trainer, foster dogs are allowed to join the training. When spots are not available, foster parents work on basic commands with the dogs. It takes about six weeks to train one, she said.

“We work on basic obedience, go for walks, go to the dog park, and hang out,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

For foster parents, the humane society pays for veterinary expenses, food and any other expenses needed to care for the dogs. She said that makes fostering a little more appealing.

In addition to fostering dogs, Pendergrass said she does a lot of things in the community through the humane society. She said every year the foster parents are invited to K-State Open House to show off the animals to visitors in hopes of finding families to adopt them, but that’s not the only way the society finds homes for pets.

The society was also holding an event at City Park with a dog training competition and other fun and games.

After graduation, Pendergrass said she would like to work for a shelter. She is a junior in animal science and pre-vet at K-State.

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